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by Andrew Lee-Hart



Part One


When I was studying Psychology, my tutor talked about the comic actor Peter Sellers, who had no ego.  Whatever part he happened to be playing that is who he was all the time, on stage, with his family or friends or even when alone at night; not a man at all, just a series of roles.


Coincidently it was around this time that I met Enid, and yet for a long time I did not see any connection. She was a lovely girl; clever and beautiful, but as we became friends, I realised that she was beginning to imitate me; listening to my music (Galaxie 500 and The Pixies) and copying my style (charity shop chic). It was not obvious to anyone else; many students in those days frequented Oxfam and listened to the same few bands…but after awhile I began to wonder who the real Enid was.


We met at a Creche that Leeds University ran on a Wednesday afternoon, for disadvantaged children in the poorer end of the city. Whilst the other students soon dropped out, Enid and I stuck with it. I stayed because I fancied Enid and wanted to get to know her, as for Enid, at first I thought it was because she genuinely liked children, and perhaps she did, but her parents were both teachers and I gathered there was an assumption that she would follow the family trade.


We talked about a young lad called Delroy, who regularly caused havoc.

“Oh he is a little sod” I told her, “I know I shouldn’t say it, but a good, hard slap would do him the world of good.”

She looked shocked, and for once she disagreed with me; “I am sure that is what he has had most of his life. He could do with a bit of love and care.”

And that is what she gave them, and they loved her too, perhaps the only people who ever did, the only people who did not subsume her personality.


We ended up in bed together on a couple of occasions, but our relationship soon became platonic; she would have been happy to stay as lovers, but there was something about her that made me resist, something that I could not put it into words. I missed her when she wasn’t there but when she was, I became bored. I wanted someone to spar against, not to agree with everything I said, someone to learn from and discover new things. She was clever enough and ended up with a First, which is more than I did, but I wanted a rounded character and Enid was too flat, or perhaps she had become a reflexion of myself, and I found myself dull.


And yet we managed to stay friends throughout our time at University, which I rarely did with people I had had sex with. It was an affectionate friendship which occasionally threatened to turn back into something romantic, but mostly didn’t. I think that I was her only male friend that lasted the whole time at University, perhaps her only friend at all. She did have a couple of romantic relationships whilst we were in Leeds, both with men who I thought unsuitable for her; more mature than her and exploitative. And for awhile she would change; more sporty with Peter and a bit nastier with Stephen, but once the relationships had ended she was back to what she once was; rather colourless, a canvas waiting to be drawn upon.


When I left Leeds University, I lost touch with many of my friends, I had moved to Leicester to train as a Social Worker, whilst almost everyone else I knew had either headed to London or abroad. But Enid did a PGCE at Nottingham University and then stayed in that city to begin to teach, and as the two cities are only a short distance apart, we often spent our Sundays together, visiting a National Trust property, sauntering around Sherwood Forest or exploring the Trent.


The relationship remained virtually the same as at University; mostly a friendship although on more than one occasion we ended up having sex, nothing passionate but rather caring and sweet.

“Are you happy?” I asked her once, as we lay together in bed.

“Yes, very. I love my job, the children are sweet, and I have you…what more can I want?”

“I am only a friend.”

She giggled, “well I don’t do this with my friends.”

“No….but well this is nothing serious, just….”

“Uhm,” she said, and got dressed, without looking at me, and in that moment she looked lost, like a little girl.


We arranged to meet at Nottingham Castle, a fortnight later. There is a rather good café there, and we often had a scone and drink before walking around the art gallery. It was early July and warm, so I sat on one of the outside chairs and drank a lemonade. Unusually she was late, and when she did arrive, she was arm in arm with a young man.

“This is Dave” she told me and giggled slightly, in a way that I did not like. He shook my hand, giving it a tighter squeeze than was necessary, before sitting down and looking straight at me in a most challenging manner.


Perhaps it was inevitable that he would not pass muster; I had always cared for Enid and whilst I had undoubtedly used her, I was angry when I perceived similar behaviour from other people. To my mind Dave was little more than a thug, with his cropped hair and tattoos decorating both arms, and as we spoke it was obvious that he was rather ignorant of the important things in life; no interest in music or books and he crushingly vetoed my idea of looking at the new Matisse exhibition in the gallery.

“None of that pretentious crap for me,” he scoffed, whilst Enid smiled in acquiescence.


I assumed that they must have met through some dating agency, but to my horror, it turned out that he was a teacher who worked in the same school as Enid.  Clearly I am more than a little bit snobbish, but even so I expected some class and intelligence from those who teach our children.


But what I disliked about him most was his bullying manner, not outright rude but dismissive of Enid, mocking her and assuming that I – as a fellow man - would join in.

“Yes, Enid loves her Oxfam; it is where she gets all her clothes from…from dead people.”

I smiled, “I love the way she dresses, and Oxfam is pretty fashionable.”

He sniggered, “not amongst adults. I will soon be dragging her to Debenhams. Dressing her properly, we don’t want the little bastards thinking that she lives on the streets.”

He was speaking about her, as if she wasn’t there, and yet Enid smiled, as if proud of the buffoon by her side, and I felt very sad.


He eventually asked about me, and then gave me his views on Social Work, which were as enlightening as his views on art and fashion.

“All very worthy. But couldn’t you do something better with your degree?”


“More money. You need to be ambitious, none of this caring crap. I am hoping to be a head teacher before I am thirty; really sort the school out.”

“Yes Dave, always has lots of new ideas.” Enid chirped.

“Oh well” I muttered, I wondered if I was just some Gamma male, who still dressed like a student and wanted to muddle through life, compared to Dave who had ambition and no self-doubt.


He gave my hand another hard shake when they got up to leave, all of ten minutes later. After that I could not face looking at Matisse’s cutouts, so I wandered around Nottingham on my own, wondering if Dave had dragged Enid back to his flat for an afternoon of sex, or if he was taking her round Debenhams to transform her into something she wasn’t…and I did not know which was worse.


I did not see her again for six months. She did not ring me once, and when I rang her, she did not stay on the telephone for long, and never suggested that we meet up.  I always pictured Dave listening, disapprovingly whilst we spoke; he did not strike me as the type of man who would allow his lover to have friends of the opposite sex, or even of the same sex. And I hoped that Enid had not revealed our previous sexual relationship, something I doubted he would be very happy with.


And then one evening in June, she did ring me.

“Can we meet up?” she whispered quickly, “tomorrow afternoon. The nature reserve in Beeston.”

I had other plans, but I had not seen Enid for so long, and missed her, so I swiftly agreed before she changed her mind.


She looked different; her clothes more respectable and her hair in a bob, which did not really suit her, she had lost weight and looked like thousands of other young professional women in Nottingham and elsewhere.

“How is work?” I asked, after a lingering hug.

“Oh, I am giving up at the end of the year. Dave and I are getting married this summer, and well we don’t need both of us working, especially if we have children.”

“But you love your job.”

She shrugged, “not really and soon we will have children of our own and they will need a full-time mother.”

She sounded as if somebody was telling her what to say, perhaps there was an implant in her brain.


“How is Dave?”

“He is doing well, he got the deputy headmastership. The school is going places now that he virtually runs the place, and hopefully the headteacher will retire early.”

She paused, and we admired the River Trent, which was running smoothly out towards Derbyshire. It was cold and we both huddled together, and I briefly stroked her arm, and she flinched before moving closer to me.


“He is at the football today, with his friends.”

“Does he know that you are here?”

“Oh no, but I needed a break, you know. Just to see you again. I don’t know.”

“You can leave him.” I said quietly.

She moved away from me slightly, so that we were no longer touching; “why would I do that? I have a lovely fiancée, and his family are very kind. His sister often takes me out into the city. Helps me smarten up, look more adult, I am no longer a student.”

And I had visions of an awful family patronising my friend; mocking her looks and dress sense.  A bunch of Philistines with whom she had nothing in common.


We parted at the tram stop, and held each other tight. Her bones pressing hard against me.

“I am sorry” she told me, “I just needed to see you.”

“Best of luck with your wedding.”

“I am sorry that I cannot invite you, but…you know.”

“It is okay.” I told her, “But if you ever need me….”

“If I ever need you what?”

“You know where I am.”

“Yes, in Leicester.” And then her tram arrived, and she got on and did not wave.



Part Two


She rang me out of the blue.

“How are you?”

It was two years later, and yet I immediately recognised her. Although my life had moved on to an extent, I often thought about her and wondered what she was doing.

“I am okay. How are you?”

“It is Dave, he is dying, and I don’t know what to do.”


She wept as I listened.

“He has stomach cancer; he won’t admit it, but he is very unwell. Losing weight and struggling at work, but his personality is still the same.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

“I just wanted to hear your voice; I have no other friends. I am trying my best to help him, but he just gets angry, and his family don’t help.”


I had never heard so sad, and I pictured her, hunched over the telephone, pale and scared.

“I think he blames me because we did not have a baby, and…”

She gulped and then put the phone down without saying goodbye.


We met a fortnight later, again at Sylvia’s Delights, a café in Beeston which sold scrumptious cakes. Enid seemed much happier, and rather plumper than when I last saw her.  She kissed me on the mouth when I came into the café. There was already a half-eaten chocolate cake on her table when I arrived.

“How is he?”

I had assumed he was getting better, that the diagnosis was a mistake judging by her positive demeanour, but I was wrong.

“He has finally admitted he is ill, and now he just lies in bed feeling sorry for himself.”

“Well, he has a lot to feel sorry for himself about to be fair to him.” And although I had never liked him, I thought Enid was being harsh, but perhaps it was her way of dealing with it.


“Yeah I know. But you have to face things; that’s what he always used to tell me.”

“How are you coping?”

“Got to, haven’t I? He can’t do anything, so I guess that it is up to me.”

She got up and ordered us both some more cake, refusing my offer to pay.

“My treat.”


She smiled almost lustfully, as she dug into her chocolate gateaux, and ate it hungrily. As I said goodbye to her outside the café, she pressed herself hard against me, and kissed me on the lips. I was aroused, but also shocked.

“See you soon,” she breathed into my ear, before I disengaged myself and went to find my car.


“Soon” proved to be two evenings later.

“Come to my house, I need you.”

“What has happened?”

“Just come.” Her voice was commanding, almost unrecognisable from the passive Enid that I used to know.

They lived in a quiet road, not far from the university. She was wearing a dress and was wearing more perfume than usual.

“What happened?”

“Nothing. I just needed to see you.”

“Where’s Dave?”

“Oh upstairs, probably asleep; that’s all he does, that and be sick. I know that he is ill but Jesus…..”

She pushed me down on the sofa and sat down next to me.

“So what have you been up to?” she asked me, but then without waiting for a reply started to kiss me.


We pushed together.

“But what about Dave?” I asked, when I managed to free my mouth.

“Oh, he will be asleep, and he is past caring, he is on so many drugs.” And she tried to kiss me again.

“I really can’t do this, not with Dave dying upstairs….”

“Oh stop this crap, do you think he wouldn’t do the same? I need you, someone to love me, now do your stuff.”

Her voice sounded different; thicker somehow, more determined, more masculine.


And to my shame, whilst Dave lay dying upstairs, probably hearing every groan and creak, I had sex with his wife, or to be more accurate, she had sex with me, taking me for everything I had. And whilst I tried to be quiet, as she reached her climax she shouted, “fuck”, again and again….


As I got up to get dressed I felt a hard slap on my bottom, and she smiled at me, and for a moment….well for a moment she looked a little like Dave, despite her pale skin and large breasts (larger than I remembered), there was something hard and predatory about her. And then she looked like Enid again; beautiful and unbearably sexy, so that I wanted to take her once more, but I did not dare. I knew that we were done.


A few times, I thought of ringing her, wondering what had happened to Dave, and how she was coping, but I decided that if she needed me that she would contact me, and as a time went on it became clear that she didn’t. I had to fight against feeling rejected and used, and yet I also felt relieved that I did not have to see her again, because underneath the beautiful body I was not sure that any of the real Enid was still alive.



Part Three


It was not until over three years later that I saw her for the last time, but I am not sure that it really was her; it was dark, and I had drunk a little wine. I was out with my fiancée Claire, we had just been to hear St Matthew’s Passion at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall and were having a wander before heading back to the train station. Then I saw three men ahead of us, staggering down the road, clearly very drunk.


For some reason I could not stop looking at one of the young men, he was slightly shorter than the other two and seemed familiar, perhaps one of my clients from work or even one of my fellow social workers having a night on the town. He seemed to be the centre of the group; louder and more boisterous.


 After a few moments I realised that the man looked strangely like Enid and smiled to myself at the absurdity of such a thought, until I realised that it might actually be her. Her hair was short, and her clothes masculine, but she had that familiar walk and carriage. And as she turned to one of her companions, I saw her profile and was certain it was her. I almost called her name, but didn’t dare, instead I hurried Claire along behind them, unable to tear myself away. 


And then she turned back and looked directly at me, her eyes dark and aggressive, and I felt that I was looking at a vortex that dragged all that it saw inside it and still wanted more. I was paralysed for a moment, trying to resist the force that was Enid, or whatever it was that had possessed her. And then Claire, either sensing something was wrong or just bored, pulled me away and after a moment of tension, I turned, and we hurried to get our bus, neither of us looking back.


And behind us, the being who possessed little more than Enid’s name and shape, wandered the streets of Nottingham, looking for someone or something to devour.



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